Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Little Havana in Bratislava

Casa del Havana is the place to be on Tuesday nights in Bratislava. Live music with no cover with each week presenting a different style. Earlier this year I was treated to Argentinian Tango which sounds much better than one might think. Last night was a nice mix of Salsa and old faves such as The Girl from Ipanema and the theme from the Godfather. The lead singer and the piano player are especially good, people actually dance, and the mojitos and Cuba Libres (rum and coke) flow freely. If you're new to Slovakia, be forewarned that the smoke gets pretty thick in the bars as everyone smokes and there aren't any smoking bans in effect. It's a bit better in the warmer weather as the windows and doors are open.

Meanwhile, the search for a package of lightbulbs continues. The major grocers, Billa and Tesco, either don't carry them or hide them very well. Ditto for the pharmacies, which up to this point have been the place to look for the supplies not found at the grocers. Other items which I have not found that fortunately fall into the "strange they don't exist but I can live without them" category are relish and sliced pickles.

Monday, May 25, 2009


On the drive from Vienna to Bratislava, I was pleasantly surprised at the difference between gloomy and bleak March and the blue sunny skies of May. Like Poland, the ditches and fields along the roadway are strewn with corn poppies--a sea of red barely hidden by waves of green. We even passed a field of cultivated poppies which made a very thick red carpet.

In the winter you don't really notice how cool the hills are. Now that everything else is green, the hills look white and crumbly, like long-abandoned castles. Apparently they are composed of flysch and I should see much more of this on the drive to Smolenice.

The day began with poppy flowers and ended with a very good dinner at the Flowers Restaurant. Situated in Old Town, the restaurant bakes its own rolls (try the brown ones, they contain garlic bits) and has an extensive wine cellar. Try the mezza: the hummus is very good, the babaganoush is unlike any I've had before and something I'll be trying to replicate, the stuffed grape leaves definitely contained lamb, and the tabouleh tasted like tabouleh. The garlic soup was nice and creamy--just as good as the Viennese one minus the garlic bits on the bottom of the bowl. If you like mushrooms, you'll like the mushroom ravioli--all of the pasta is homemade. For dessert the quark balls were interesting. I was expecting more cheese and less dumpling dough (but hey, this is eastern Europe) but they were still tasty and the ginger/strawberry sauce was divine.